Truck drivers: Hire right, hire bright

Written by Sayantan Banerjee - Safety & Compliance Auditor - Vagans Inc

Canadian trucking companies are bracing for the worst-case scenario- not enough men and women to transport freight across the continent, with a projected driver shortage of more than 30,000 by 2020.

Companies, big and small, are jostling for talent that is hard to come by. The situation is ripe for hasty and nasty driver recruitment - a recipe for disaster from the safety and compliance perspective. Roads are no more dangerous than at the moment, with the trucking industry reeling under an ageing workforce unnerved by the ELD mandate.

Driver hiring, for many transportation companies, has become a mere lip-service. New recruits are becoming part of the fleet without proper CVOR, abstract evaluation, thorough road test and even reference checks are being forgone.

As a result, we can see a high incidence of fatalities on our roads, many of which are caused by distracted driving or poor driving skills.

Among the 1,342 fatal motor vehicle collisions on OPP-patrolled roads between 2012 and 2016, 266 involved transport trucks. During the same five-year period, 330 people died — the majority of victims were occupants of other involved vehicles. According to OPP data, 44 of the crash victims were drivers of the transport trucks, compared to 286 victims who were in cars and other smaller vehicles.

Driver hiring is one of the most critical components of transportation risk management, if not the most. A good pair of hands behind the wheels of an 80,000-pound CMV is imperative for safety on the roads. Drivers are critical to the consumer ecosystem, especially in North America, and a lot of responsibility lies on all stakeholders, including the federal government.

The Humboldt Broncos tragedy in April this year that sent shock waves throughout the nation is a prime example of dubious driver hiring procedure.

Hiring qualified and responsible drivers or owner operators is the essence of a sound safety and compliance culture for any carrier, and thereby ensuring that roads are safe for everyone. A clean CVOR and driving abstract is essential in the hiring process. Collisions, convictions, tickets are clear red flags from the safety and insurance perspective.

Experienced drivers bring a lot to the table in terms of responsibility and sound judgement on the road and during MTO/DOT inspections. Even those passing out of reputed truck driving training institutes could be good ambassadors for your brand.

A quality driver hiring exercise would include thorough examination of driving records, pre-employment drug test, criminal record check, proper reference check, road test, HoS test and evaluation of drivers’ knowledge of traffic rules and regulations.

One rotten apple can indeed spoil the whole bunch, and one fatal collision can spell doom for a transportation company!

About Writer: Sayantan Banerjee is currently a Senior Safety and compliance auditor at Vagans Inc and content specialist with 7 years of media and communication experience.

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